The LSU Board of Supervisors on Friday unanimously approved a cut in the student fees paid to Student Media, resulting in a $1 decrease in the fall and $1 decrease in the spring on students' fee bills.
The fee reduction derives from a recommendation from LSU Student Government, who formed a Student Fee Value Assessment Committee in spring 2018 to analyze and suggest changes in the amounts student pay in University fees for various organizations.
The $2 reduction would come from the fee previously allocated to the Gumbo yearbook, according to a document in an email from SG president Stewart Lockett.
"We really appreciate student government working with us to get something done that needed to get done," said LSU President F. King Alexander. "We're modernizing something that would have been left untouched otherwise."
LSU Student Media Director John Friscia said the cut will likely cost Student Media around $50,000.
"It's not the outcome we had hoped for, but it does allow us to continue to function at a level where we can serve the community and campus," Friscia said. "We'll figure out how to patch that hole."
Speaker of the student senate Christina Black authored the resolution, SGR No. 13, and presented it as a compromise between University administration, Student Media and SG.
“I am first and foremost for the students,” Black said in a SG senate meeting on Oct. 17. “I am the speaker of the student senate, but as [part of] my job as speaker, I act as a liaison between the students and the administration. So, with that, I come to you with this compromise. I think that this is what’s best for the students, and that’s honestly how I feel.”
The resolution included a proposed combination of individual Student Media student fees into a singular fee, allowing Student Media more funding flexibility between media outlets. Black said the SFVAC determined that Student Media already apportioned fees differently than the stipulations in the line items.
The resolution requests Student Media to further review both Gumbo and Legacy Magazine to determine whether to continue print publication and encourages Gumbo to transition into an exclusively online version, according to the resolution.
However, as specified by Black in the Oct. 17 meeting, the fee reduction and suggestions proposed in the resolution do not mandate the distribution of Student Media’s funding from the student fee.
“We are cutting the money that we felt was going toward Gumbo, but they still have the pot, a gumbo pot if you will, of fees to pull from, so they can use those fees as they wish,” Black said. “If Student Media wants to continue to fund the Gumbo in the capacity that they have been, they are welcome to do that. But other areas of Student Media will suffer because of that.”
The resolution passed in the SG senate meeting by a majority of 68 percent in favor of the legislation. Student senators also voted to create committees that would further review both the Campus Life and Performing Arts fees, SGR No. 12 and SGR No. 14, respectively.
LSU Interim Provost Stacia Haynie said in the Oct. 17 meeting that if the Board of Supervisors approves the measure, the cut would be effective for the spring 2019 fee bills.
Among others, SG senators Catherine McKinney, John "Jack" Green, Sarah Oliver and Jacob Cheatwood spoke in support of the resolution. Student senators Bailey Allmon, Cassidy Riley, Timothy Craig, Shrey Dalal and Tyler Porche opposed the resolution, requesting the SG senate allow students to vote on the previous SFVAC recommendations on the referendum in the spring.
Tiger TV assistant news director and KLSU news director Kennedi Walker spoke during the debate on behalf of Student Media.
“I am thankful to you all for considering to lower the [fee] cut, but I’m not going to lie, I’m still a little bit disappointed that there is a [fee] cut,” Walker said. “But I understand, and I think that this is a good compromise. Though the cut won’t be as detrimental, it will still affect all of Student Media across the board.”
These resolutions followed controversial concurrent resolutions passed in spring 2018 during a SG senate meeting on April 11, according to a previous report in The Daily Reveille. SGCR No. 15 and SGCR No. 16 proposed an $8 cut to the Student Media student fee and a complete elimination of the Performing Arts fee be put on a referendum before the student body.
Green proposed the original legislation based on recommendations from SFVAC, a committee he co-chaired. SFVAC’s original conclusions included the individual fee consolidation and proposed the elimination of the Gumbo yearbook student fee “due to the low number (approximately 300) of Gumbo yearbooks purchased by students, and due to the additional amount students must pay to purchase the yearbooks,” according to the resolution.
As of now, the original concurrent resolutions remain on the spring referendum even though the SG senate voted to pass the legislation. However, Green said he would push for new legislation to remove the concurrent resolutions from the referendum.
SFVAC also called for a reduction in student fees dedicated to Legacy Magazine “due to perceived low readership,” and for the remaining funds to be allocated to other Student Media outlets, KLSU, Tiger TV and The Daily Reveille, according to the resolution.
“I think this compromise that’s offered is really great,” Black said.
Caleb Greene contributed to this report.